Students often ask about free programs they could use at home, and sometimes people ask about the range of free and commercial programs available.  Here is some information:

Audio waveform editors:
This is the kind of program we use in Linguistics 103, Introduction to General Phonetics, for making and listening to audio recordings, and for simple waveform manipulations.

Completely free: Audacity (PC and Mac) , KISS Wave Editor (PCs; scroll down a bit on their page), spwave (PC, Mac, Unix).  Note free Plug-ins for Audacity.

Free trial version: Amadeus (Mac only), AudioEdit Deluxe and Blaze Media Pro (PCs), Easy Audio Editor, Bias Peak (Mac)

Others (not free): Wave Editor (and other advanced versions of KISS - for PCs), SoundEdit16 (Mac), Goldwave, Audition (for PCs - formerly CoolEdit/CoolEditPro), AudioEdit Deluxe and Blaze Media Pro, Bias Peak, SoundForge (for PCs-Audio Studio is the affordable one) and check Apple's listings.

We used to use Amadeus for Ling.103 because Audacity did not have an  input level display during recording, and Amadeus, which was available in the CLICC, did. Audacity now has an input level monitor, and is now available in the CLICC.  Since Audacity, unlike Amadeus, is free and works on both Macs and PCs, we now use it for Ling. 103.  However, Amadeus is still available in the Phonetics Lab on a Mac.  

Acoustic analysis systems:  This is the kind of program we use in Linguistics 104, Experimental Phonetics, and in Linguistics 111, Intonation  (we use the  PC/Macquirer family).  Full systems like these tend to have much steeper learning curves than the waveform editors above, especially if they are designed to be very flexible and powerful (like Praat).  Note that Wavesurfer is included on the CD that comes with the 5th edition of A Course in Phonetics.

Completely free: Praat, SIL Speech Analyzer, Wavesurfer, VoceVista, Speech Filing System
Undergrad Neri Adam writes about using the SIL Speech Analyzer to do Ling. 104 exercises:
    A good program that one can manipulate sound files with at home is the SIL Speech Analyzer.  After downloading the program for free from  this is what you can expect to find:  The program only accepts WAV files, so whatever files you are using have to be converted to that.  After opening the program you can open a WAV file and start manipulating.  What will show up first on the screen is the waveform and the F0 of the sound file.  To highlight a portion of the graph you have to click with the mouse and drag, while holding down the control key.  Using the options on the toolbar you can zoom in or out, or listen to the sound file.  If you would like to see the spectrogram then you need to click on “graphs” and then “types.”  Then you need to pick the option that lists a spectrogram.  To modify the spectrogram to your liking you will need to go to “graphs” and then “parameters.”  The standardized version comes in color, but you can change that to monochrome, to look like the graphs that we are more used to in the Ling department.  If you want to see the formants, this is where you choose that option also.  This program does not have log files or calculations in milliseconds, so it is a little different from PCQuirer. 
    With this program you can measure the durations of segments such as consonant clusters and vowels.  There is a measurement box in the bottom right hand of the screen to view your measurements.  With this method you can also detect the frequency of formants and the frequency of the pitch.

Our page of links to Praat info and scripts for common 104/111 tasks (thanks to Kevin Ryan for this)

Free trial version: MITSyn

Others: SciconRD's PCQuirer/MacQuirer (has downloadable demo), Kay Elemetrics's MultiSpeech (CSL is their premium product, with its own A/D hardware), Avaaz's CSRE (has downloadable demo), Sensimetrics's Speech  Station 2

File format converters can be crucial when using these different programs
Here is a free one that handles many formats:  Switch

Last updated May 2006 by Pat Keating

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